1940s | 1950s | Mad Men Inspired | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Half-circle chic

By on September 15, 2013
Half circle skirt

Half circle skirtMy adventures into pattern drafting are not as yet very adventurous but I am learning very slowly but surely.

This is my first half-circle skirt. I made it from some cheap poly-crepe as a tester before I went to wool-crepe. But I am more than happy with the result. It hangs really nicely, thanks to the nature of the drape and also to a heavy stretch satin lining!

The hem was a nightmare to get straight. My own fault for not letting it hang first. The stretch in the bias resulted in an extra 2.5 inches at the front and back, compared to the side seams. So I dutifully unpicked and started again. A long process. But once I’d accurately trimmed and finished with bias tape, it worked a treat.

Half circle skirt

I incorporated a lapped zipper on the left side with two military style buttons on the waistband.

I love the timelessness of this style and for a simple black skirt it feels really more classy than it should! It’s so girly and swishy! More photos and info over at ooobop!

half circle skirt


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1950s | Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

My first 50’s newlook dress

By on June 14, 2013
50s wiggle dress

I have been admiring the amazing 50’s fashion for a couple of years at least. But never had the guts to really wear it. Here in Ukraine or almost any other post-soviet country being too different from everybody else is not a very cool thing. Especially if your work suggests a strict dress-code. You have to at least match one of the common trends and vintage is not one of them.

50s wiggle dress
My first 50s wiggle dress

Fortunatelly for me at me current work place I have more freedom in what to wear, so I am enjoying it big time))).

This is a first dress I made drafting the pattern by myself. I used an old Soviet sewing book published back in mid 50’s. Here’s the original pic from the book.

I used about 1,50 meters of pretty thick stretch fabric. This made the dress extremely comfy and easy to sew. Non-stretch fadric would have been more complicated for someone so in experienced in pattern drafting as I am.

50s wiggle dress
Original dress picture from the book

50's wiggle dress - front view
50's wiggle dress - front view

50's wiggle dress - back view
50's wiggle dress - back view

This has become my magic dress: I wear it when I need to look good, and when I don’t feel like dressing up, but still need to look nice.

One terrible thing about this dress. After I made it I had nothing to wear immediatelly))). Simply because nothing else looked as good on me as this one))).

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1950s | Skirts | Vintage Sewing

Old Throw – New Skirt!

By on February 17, 2013
self drafted pencil skirt
self drafted pencil skirt
self-drafted pencil skirt from thrifted throw

This is the 3rd self-drafted pencil skirt I’ve made and I’m sure it wont be the last. I love how each one has taught me something new. This one is indeed made from a thrifted wool throw/blanket. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out until the end but this darned cold weather spurred me on. The idea of having a blanky wrapped round my legs an’ all! I made sure to interface the hem and vent so that it had a bit of weight to keep the shape and that really worked.

 coffee in the pub

It did come up a little too big though. I did stay stitch the waistline but clearly the weave in the wool has much more give than I’d bargained for. Only noticeable when I wear a cinched in belt, the waist at the back drops down, but no biggie. It’s a keeper this skirt, so come the warmer months, when it’s no longer my go-to, I will remove the waistband and take it in a bit. Boy, that’s how I know I’ve come so far! I would never have even thought that before!

check wool skirt
I have documented how I attached the lining to the vent over at ooobop! for anyone who is interested. Only the 2nd time I’ve attempted this but there’s no going back now!

The wonderful photos are taken by the lovely Mr Ooobop! Such a luxury to have a hubby who’s so keen to practice photography skills.

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Two Christmas Dresses

By on January 6, 2013

Hi Everyone, Here are two dresses I made for Christmas, which I know is a little excessive but you can’t help what fabric you fall in love with.  Please forgive the dodgy victory rolls, it was a first attempt.

I found this fabric way back in July or some such inappropriate season and thought it was soo cool.  I had been wanting to make a 50’s style shirtwaist in a kitschy print, having see a couple such fabulous items on this very site.  I made the pattern myself, but I did use vintage buttons that I got from a friend who was closing her vintage store.  She sold me this giant jar of gorgeous buttons for a very reasonable price which I carried home on the bus like a baby and proudly presented to my boyfriend who, in a Herculean effort, pretended to be interested.

This dress was my Christmas party dress this year so I actually got quite a bit of use out of it.  The print is of little birds and berries which I love.  This one is self-drafted as well and was inspired by a dress I saw in a vintage store which cost far too much.  As I was looking at the picture I thought ‘aww the buttons didn’t show up’ which turned out to not be surprising since I never sewed them on.  Oops.  There were supposed to be covered buttons in the purple abouve the flappy wing parts.  Oh well, maybe next year.

Also behind my right knee are some Christmas stockings I made out of the leftover fabric from the first dress.

More on my blog, A Sewing Machine and an Umbrella. Cheers


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The Louisa Coat

By on November 15, 2012

This coat is made from a heavily interfaced, vintage double knit that I found in the thrift store a few years ago. I made it using a self-drafted pattern. I think the coat has a very 60’s feel to it.

It is fully lined, and features a large collar, puff sleeves, welt pockets, topstitching and fabric covered buttons. It’s complete with my own tag and a hanging loop inside.

If I’d had more fabric, I would’ve added a detail in the back like a little buttoned belt. Oh well, I’ll add that to my next version.

The coat design is based on a well-worn and well-loved coat that I’ve had for several years. Rather than make a complete copy of the coat, I changed some things. The size of the coat is a tad larger (the store-bought one was an extra-small), the collar is much larger, the placement of the welt pockets is different, the pocket openings are wider (the store-bought coat had such small openings that I could barely fit my hands in them), some of the seams are topstitched, and the sleeves and armholes have more wiggle room for additional layers.

Technically, this is a muslin, but I hope you’ll agree this is a very wearable muslin. I love it! I plan to make a few changes to the pattern and make another coat. The biggest thing I’ll change is the size of the sleeves. I overcompensated a bit in adding room to the sleeves, so I’ll shape the sleeves a bit more for my next coat.

If you are interested in more photos and details about the project, please see this post and this post. Thanks for looking! 🙂

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High Waisted Bikini

By on August 29, 2012

I posted this one piece swimsuit a little over a month ago. I had worked out a pattern for the 50’s style pinup suit with ruching along the sides and back hems. For my second shot at swimwear, I wanted to make a high-waisted bikini.

I used a super luxurious Italian matte tricot designed for swimsuits. The bottom came together pretty easily (the trick is to reinforce your seams with clear elastic) and I whipped up the bikini top using a vintage pattern (Style 1558). It fits perfectly and is soooo comfortable. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to wear a regular, modern swimsuit again.

You can see more info & images on my blog here.

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1960s | Dresses

Quick and Dirty Shirtwaist Dress

By on November 5, 2011

I went into JoAnn’s for ONE THING, I swear. It wasn’t my fault that they had this awesome Alexander Henry “land of autumn” print on clearance for $3 A YARD, so I did the only sensible thing, which was buy the bolt end. There was a bit more than 4 yards, which is the bare minimum I need for a full-skirted dress. And I always need another full-skirted dress.

I wanted to see how quickly I could put a dress together, since autumn is almost over and I am running out of opportunities to wear this sort of thing. I tried something I’ve wanted to do for a while, which is drafting my own shirtwaist dress. (Or is it shirtdress? I always use the terms interchangeably but maybe they aren’t. Anyway, this is a dress which buttons all the way down, eliminating the need for a side zip.) I started with a 1970s blouse pattern I’ve used before. I de-biggened the collar so it wouldn’t be so Seventies, lopped several inches off the bottom, and tapered in the side seams (not enough as it turns out – it really could use some darts at the waist). Then I sliced up the remaining yardage into three equal pieces, turned back facings at the front, and gathered the whole mess to the bodice. I found some vintage gray buttons in my stash which are a PERFECT match for my new gray shoes.

I took every shortcut you can imagine, I even cheated and did a machine hem instead of blindhemming. Not my best work, but it definitely works as what Erin of Dress A Day calls a “stunt dress.” And it WAS quick – twelve hours after purchasing the fabric, I sewed on the last button. Here I am all decked out for church, with crinoline, vintage slip, and fabulous new shoes.

It’s a very fun dress and I can’t wait to wear it on Thanksgiving! Despite being faked together from a 1977 pattern I think it has kind of an early-Sixties vibe, what do you think?

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